Given names: 
S. A.
Given address: 
Sheet No: 522
Manawatu / Horowhenua

Biography contributed by Isaac du Toit (great-great-great-grandson)

Sarah Ann McMurray (née Silcock) was a talented woodcarver and craftswoman.

She was born on the 26 August 1848 in Nelson. Her parents were Susannah (nee Flower) and Captain Simon Bonnet Silcock. She married Robert McMurray and they had six children.

She lived in Whanganui where she embellished her home with elaborately carved mantelpieces and architraves.

In 1914 she and her husband retired to Palmerston North where she carved almost every piece of furniture in their house.

McMurray died in Palmerston North on the 14 September 1943 aged 95 and is buried at Terrace End Cemetery, Palmerston North.


The Book of New Zealand women – Ko kui ma te kaupapa / edited by Charlotte Macdonald, Merimeri Penfold and Bridget Williams. Wellington, Bridget Williams Books, 1991, Pages 392-394

Manawatu Times, Volume 65, Issue 201, 26 August 1940, Page 5

Manawatu Times, Volume 60, Issue 218, 16 September 1935, Page 6


Close of view of piece of carved wood

Carved wooden chair by Sarah Ann McMurray (photograph courtesy Isaac du Toit)

Portrait of an elderly woman wearing dark clothing seated in a garden next to a long wood carving of fruit and vines.

Sarah Ann McMurray seated next to one of her wood carvings. (photograph courtesy Isaac du Toit)

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

Community contributions

3 comments have been posted about S. A. McMurray

What do you know?

Marie Baird nee McMurray

Posted: 09 Jul 2021

I wish to correct some of the information posted here. Sarah Ann McMurray is my Great Grandmother. I have significant information on her. I refer you to the NZ book of Women where you find writings by her granddaughter Phyllis Orwin who obtained this information from Valerie Oakenfull. I have a number of Sarah's carvings and other items. Her maiden name was Silcock. She is the daughter of Simon and Suzannah Silcock who emigrated to nelson from London in 1842. She married Robert McMurray who came to Nelson with his brother James. They were born in Ballyrussell near Warrenpoint in Northern Island. In the local Ballyrussell churchyard you will find the headstone of their parents which I have had refurbished. I care for the graves of Sarah and Robert in terrace End cemetery in Palmerston North and their children Robert Jnr (my grandfather) Alfred, Minnie and May who are buried at Kelvin Grove. Daisy is buried in Wanganui. I am happy to have contact with any family who might like more information.

Tish Kirkland

Posted: 19 Sep 2018

She was my great, great grandmother too. :-)

Trudy Evans

Posted: 03 Oct 2011

Sarah Ann McMurray is my Great, Great, Grandmother. She was born in Nelson as Sarah Ann Silcox and married Robert McMurray - who was also born in Nelson.
There is quite a bit of information about Sarah including this report
She also appears in a book about pioneering women in New Zealand (sorry I can't remember the name). The book mentions the animated toys she used to make. My Aunty had one of the toys Sarah made and recently donated it to Te Papa.
Growing up my mother used to tell my sister and I that we should always vote because NZ women fought for the right to do so. Consequently I have voted in every election. I have raised my daughters with the same 'mantra'!
I spoke to my Aunty about this and she said it was dinned into them when they were kids as well. Now I know where this strong family value came from - Sarah was one of the women voted for that right and must've made sure all the women in her family voted!